How to Get into the Holiday Spirit in 2020

For many of us, 2020 has felt long as we have navigated a year unlike anything many of us have ever experienced. As a result, much like the many months before it, the holidays feel different. For some, there’s a big desire to really dive into all things festive and happy – something known to tackle in a joyful way. For others, there’s a hesitancy to celebrate the season and a lack of excitement where a bountiful spirit typically resides. If you fall into the second camp, know you are definitely not alone. 

We have heard plenty of people remark they’re feeling more “bah humbug” than usual, so we thought we would piece together 10 easy ways you can still inject December with joy even during a holiday season that feels vastly different from any other. Keep reading for fun holiday ideas you can do alone or with family or friends, and a big bonus: they won’t break the bank!

1. See the Holiday Lights: 

Many cities and towns have drive-through light shows, and a quick search will likely cause a few to pop up in your area. Pick a date, and visit one! Most displays include themed lights that are larger than life, and the majority of shows also suggest tuning into a radio station that’s playing a soundtrack of holiday music.

If your area doesn’t have a light show, you can always go for an evening walk through your neighborhood to take in the lights where you live! Grab a flashlight for your stroll, and don’t forget to whip up mugs of hot chocolate to go to stay warm.

2. Do a Holiday DIY:

There are plenty of crafts you can tackle by yourself or with your kids! Purchase a gingerbread house kit and start building; make your own ornaments; create a garland. The options are endless, but here is a great place to start for kids!

3. Watch a Holiday Movie:

Whether you tune into a cable channel or scroll through your go-to streaming services, there are plenty of holiday movies to enjoy. Plan to watch your seasonal favorites, as well as a few new-to-you flicks this season. If you’re looking for a list of classic holiday movies, this article will help to point you in a direction!   

4. Volunteer:

Think about contacting organizations in your area to see if any are looking for volunteers, purchase toys for kids who might not receive presents, contact a local nursing home to see if their residents would like to receive cards, or make a donation to a charity you admire. Helping others is a great way to connect and brighten your spirits and theirs.

5. Take in a Holiday Performance:

Due to Covid-19, many performances are now happening virtually online in order to keep guests and performers safe. The great bonus of this is you can enjoy performances from other cities in addition to your own. City ballets, including the New York City Ballet, are going to air performances of “The Nutcracker”, and musicians from Carnegie Hall are also streaming to virtual crowds. 

6. Bake a Holiday Recipe:

The holidays don’t feel quite like the holidays without time spent in the kitchen! Last week, we shared 10 holiday cookie recipes that are all delicious. Choose one, source your ingredients, pick a time, and get baking! 

7. Listen to Holiday Music:

It’s officially Mariah Carey season, and we are welcoming “All I Want for Christmas is You” every time it plays. Whether you’re working from home, spending time in the kitchen, or simply relaxing, tune into a holiday music station. There are plenty of options from jazz to classics and pop to kids’ (and everything in between). Hearing a few festive songs might help to brighten your spirits!

8. Read a Holiday Book:

There are books for every season, and there are a number of books set during the holiday season! They always feel particularly cozy to enjoy during December (and even January), and we think you will agree. “One Night in December” by Josie Silver is a great read, and Oprah Magazine found 34 other holiday themed books. If you’re looking for holiday books for kids, Studio DIY has a great roundup! 

9. Send Holiday Snail Mail:

This year, a trip to the mailbox has felt like an event. So, keep the snail mail coming for your family and friends! Think about picking up a box of holiday cards and writing a note in each one to your recipient. You can even DIY your own cards for an extra holiday project!

10. Remember: This Year is Different:

Though it may seem odd to end on this note, it’s important to point out that this year is different. We’ve navigated a lot, and there’s still more to come. So, give yourself some grace. If you don’t tick off as many holiday to-dos as you have in the past, that’s okay! Enjoy what you do decide to do, and remember less can definitely be more.

How are you getting into the holiday spirit this year? Join us and share on Facebook!

10 Tried & True Holiday Cookie Recipes

The holiday season is officially underway, and the month of December always makes us want to spend even more time in the kitchen. Even though we might not be gathering this year, we still plan to honor holiday traditions. And, it wouldn’t feel like the holidays without cookies!

We’ve done the hard work for you and scoured the web for what we think are some of the best holiday cookie recipes. They’re all what we’re calling tried and true favorites, and we’re sharing the details for 10 of the top recipes we’ve found below. Plan to spend a festive night baking on your own, or spend a Saturday or Sunday whipping up cookies with your kids as a fun holiday activity. 

No matter what you decide to make, we hope you discover a recipe you will make year after year!

Snickerdoodle Cookies:

You can’t go wrong with a melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon sugar cookie! Snickerdoodles are a great option to make with kids because you can form the dough, and your kids can add the cinnamon sugar coating. As a note, the yield is typically high for Snickerdoodles, and this recipe will leave you with four dozen cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Chocolate chip cookies are not necessarily seasonal, but we do always find ourselves baking a batch (or many!) during the holidays. We have yet to uncover a recipe that’s better than the one from Nestle Toll House, so we’re sticking with it. A key for great chocolate chip cookies that aren’t flat is to make sure to add the dash of extra flour the recipe suggests!

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies:

Sugar cookies are another classic all-year-long recipe, but just like chocolate chip cookies, they’re always a welcome treat during the holidays! We all love sugar cookies for their taste, plus they’re perfect for kids to decorate. Add a few cookie cutters to your cart, and don’t forget the sprinkles and icing! This Old Fashioned Sugar Cookie recipe is excellent, and there’s also step-by-step instructions in case you want to make your own icing.

Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies: 

Please be warned: these cookies are delicious! Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies feature a cookie that’s dipped in crushed pecans or walnuts. Once the cookies are out of the oven, you will flatten the center and add your jam. Raspberry jam tastes wonderful, but any fruit jam will do!

Gingerbread Cookies:

It wouldn’t be a holiday cookie recipe roundup without Gingerbread Cookies! The fun of Gingerbread Cookies is they are perfect to cut out and decorate, particularly with royal icing. Keep in mind, similar to bread, the dough needs rise for 2-8 hours, so this is a recipe you will likely work on in shifts. 

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies:

We love the fresh taste of mint during the holidays, and candy canes are a must-have treat! This cookie recipe calls for both chocolate and candy canes. The cookies are chocolate, and the outer surround is where you will taste the candy cane pieces. Because the pieces are crushed, mints work too! 

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies: 

Few combinations are tastier than peanut butter and chocolate, and Peanut Butter Blossom cookies feature both! The cookie is where you will find the peanut butter, and the chocolate is added in when you place a Hershey Kiss on top. These are another simple and easy recipe to make with kids because they can easily add the chocolate!

Ginger Eggnog Sandwich Cookies:

Two of the most classic holiday flavors are ginger and eggnog, and this recipe combines both! The cookies are where you will find the ginger flavor, and the taste of eggnog is incorporated into the icing that will be sandwiched in the middle. The recipe yields 16 sandwich cookies, and they sound perfect to enjoy while watching a holiday movie! 

Spritz Cookies:

Spritz Cookies are known for their shapes and buttery taste, so we had to make sure to add them to our list! The dough is simple to make, and they’re also easy to decorate with sprinkles. The step that can sometimes prove tricky is working a press. Yes, these cookies require a specific tool – a cookie dough press – that forms them into their holiday shapes. 

Dark Chocolate Orange Slice & Bake Cookies:

If you have ever watched “The Great British Baking Show”, you know how much the bakers love to combine chocolate and orange. We’re here to add our stamp of approval! Sally’s Baking Addiction shares some of the best cookie recipes (and general baking recipes), and this one for Dark Chocolate Orange Slice & Bake Cookies is a winner. If you’re looking for another chocolate and orange cookie recipe, this one also gets an honorable mention!

Which holiday cookie recipes will you be baking this year? Share your favorites with us on Facebook!